USS Bluegill (SS-242) WW2
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Sixth War Patrol: Captured Documents"Bluegill Island thus became the only Jap territory to be captured by the action of a single submarine alone, and at that time it marked the farthest westward advance of any United States forces . . .
"Six buildings were found, including a radio shack, all badly damaged by bombardment; a light tower and a radio tower remained. Comdr. Eric L. Barr Jr., the Bluegill's commanding officer, in his report writes an interesting description of the landing party's findings:
"'All buildings had been well constructed of concrete, but were now damaged beyond repair. Adjacent to the pump building was a tennis court. At the southwest edge of the clearing was a pig-sty, and around the periphery of the settlement were boxes for weather recording equipment. At the north edge of the opening were two wooden guns guarded by two stuffed soldiers and an arch with a plaque bearing some Jap writing. Under this a path lined with inverted saki bottles led to a small shrine which had two small adjacent doors, like those of a cupboard, opening out to the path. Opening the doors revealed offerings of bread fruit, melon, a money box, and two bottles of water from which protruded two green plants. The plants and fruit were still green which indicated recent occupancy estimated from 10 to 14 days.
"'Our investigation completed, we assembled around the flag pole, and at 1022 on May 29, 1945, a handful of soldiers and sailors stood at attention while the Stars and Stripes slowly ascended the flag pole and two captured Jap bugles blared forth. The land they now stood on was U. S. territory! A plaque was then affixed to the base of the pole certifying the capture of the island by the crew of the USS Bluegill!'"
[From a 1946 newspaper article courtesy of Carol Hare Mier.]
Japanese documents (left and center) and weather balloon captured on Pratas Island. Bluegill Island from the Bluegill Battle Flag (right). All images courtesy of Ray (Basil) Phipps.
After 28-29 May 1945 Pratas Island was renamed
"Bluegill Island" by these intrepid warriors. You can see the island
proudly displayed at the top center of the Battle Flag with its radio
hut and antenna towers.
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